More homeless people are using the subway as temporary housing, and the delays and disruptions have increased as well. A new city program will replace fines with outreach to provide better access to social services.
Winnie Hu reports that a new initiative in New York City called the Subway Diversion Project seeks to connect homeless people on transit with social services rather than giving them civil summonses that come with fines.
As the number of homeless people on the subway has increased, so have delays. "Trains were delayed 659 times last year by homeless people walking on tracks, blocking train doors and engaging in other unruly behavior — a 54 percent increase from the 428 such delays in 2014, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subway," writes Hu.
This new approach will involve waiving the summonses if individuals leave with outreach workers who can do assessments and help plug people into a network of social services. But homeless advocates say the program is not offering any new resources and the focus instead should be on providing the housing and services needed to get homeless people off the streets.
City and transit officials say the program is part of a larger effort to help the city’s homeless population. "Mr. [Andy] Byford, the transit chief, said the new program aimed to help vulnerable people while also balancing their needs against the needs of millions of subway riders," notes Hu.
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